When the San Francisco 49ers made wide receiver Dante Pettis a second-round draft pick in April, critics felt the selection was a reach with the No. 44 overall pick. Many of those who started watching the college film on Pettis almost immediately saw him as a Shanahan-type of guy.

Pettis displayed his versatility at Washington. He was the top returner in college football last year and accumulated an FBS-record nine punts returned for touchdowns over his collegiate career while averaging 14.2 yards per return. Since his junior year in 2016, Pettis caught 116 receptions for 1,583 yards with 22 touchdowns while displaying the ability to play at numerous receiver spots.

"I'm hoping to do a lot of different things," Pettis said after being drafted by the 49ers. "Whether that's taking a deep post, taking the top off of the defense or getting a little screen and breaking a few tackles, making a big play that way or just moving the chains on third down. You know, there's a lot of different things that I feel I can do that I can translate into the NFL."

49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan is well aware of the skillset that Pettis brings to the team and how it can make the receiver a dangerous weapon for quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo. However, he also wants to make sure Pettis' versatility does not hamper his NFL success. The coaches have utilized the rookie at numerous spots on the offense during practices, which could make observers wonder about his role.

"I think Dante can handle it, but we've also slowed it down a little bit because you don't want to be okay at a bunch of things," Shanahan said. "You'd like to get really good at one thing and then get good at the next thing. I think that's the neat thing with Dante, is he's got the ability to help us out in a number of different areas.

"We have three different receiver positions, and he has the skill set to where he's not the fastest guy on our team, but he can run. He's not the quickest guy on our team but he is very quick, and he's got good hands. He's not big, but he's not small either. You can use him in a bunch of different spots.

"We've got to throw him at that because it can get very confusing, but he's a very smart guy, and he's taking the challenge well."

Pettis' quarterback, Jimmy Garoppolo, has been impressed with the multiple roles the rookie receiver has been able to take on.

"Dante, I think he's coming along," said quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo before Wednesday's practice. "As any rookie is in OTAs, it's always hard to start and pick up the playbook and all that, but he's done a great job. He's doing three different positions right now. It's impressive."

Is Pettis a Jimmie Ward-type player, someone who could be the first player off the bench if there was a need at any one of several spots?

"Yeah, kind of," Shanahan responded. "Everyone uses receivers differently. We try to use guys' skill sets all over the spot for how different we can use those guys. But, injuries happen, rotations happen. You leave a receiver out there all game, guys get tired, and their routes aren't as well. They stop blocking. They don't become part of the run game.

"You only get five, sometimes six up on game day. You get one injury down, who's up? Well, if that fifth guy was up just for special teams and now he's got to come in, and now he's got to play. Let's say Marquise (Goodwin) went out. What was he, fast? Alright, we can't run any of the plays that we practiced, he's not. So, you lose a whole game plan.

"So it's just nice when you have guys who can do different things that you aren't handcuffed in a game. Similar to how Aldrick Robinson has been for us. He's fast enough to do some of that stuff, but he also can do the things that other guys do which just allows you to overcome."

Bucky Brooks, a former NFL cornerback and kick returner, is a big fan of Pettis. Now an NFL Network analyst, he predicted in May that Pettis would reach 1,000 receiving yards in his rookie season.

"A lot of people have just been stuck on his punt return tape because he had nine punt return touchdowns during his time," Brooks said. "When I'm looking at wide receivers, I want guys who have punt returning in their background because I know they can run with the rock when they get it in their hands.

"I believe in that offense. We saw Jimmy Garoppolo make stars out of pedestrian players. You give him a legitimate guy like Dante Pettis, look for him to go big. San Francisco is going to be exciting. Dante Pettis is going to be a star in the Bay."